Ask yourself right now: are you as happy as you can be?
Or, where are you on a happiness scale from one to ten, one being okay, three being fine, eleven being delirious and twelve being manic (Yes, you can be too happy)?
If you’re not as happy as you’d like to be, why aren’t you?
Most people will come up with a list of what’s wrong or lacking in their life. Parents may blame their kids for misbehaving or being too demanding, or they might just blame one kid who didn’t turn out the way they wanted.
A lot of people would list material things that they think will bring them more happiness: more money, a bigger house, a vacation, a bigger TV, the newest Apple product or a new car.
Many imagine the perfect life with good looks, a great job, incredible success, an attractive partner and the admiration of their peers.
Ask yourself now: if you had the things you want but lack, would you then be completely happy?
I have found that what most often holds us back from real happiness is not what we reach for but rather the things we hold on to. It’s the baggage we drag day after day that weighs us down, keeps us from running forward and grounds us from flying.
In that bag can be the vestiges of your past: unhappy memories, past failures, negative self-talk, the bad things others did to you, the bad things you did to others, your parents’ dreams for you, and the old dreams that you’ve outgrown.
That bag will keep getting heavier if you don’t stop, open it up and take a good look at what you’ve been holding on to. What do you do with things that no longer work or that have no value to you? You throw them out. In my house, my wife throws them out before I can come up with a reason why I might need them . . . someday.
What should you do with old ways of thinking and feeling that no longer work for you?
Your happiness exercise for today: Ask yourself, “What holds me back from being as happy as I could be?” Suppress the initial impulse to blame it all on the person you are with. Dig a little deeper. Ask, “Am I holding on to something that holds me back? Can I let go?”
Next: Letting go.